The concept of food as simply fuel for exercise has thankfully begun to subside. Gone are the days of pasta and carbohydrate loading, as research has clearly disproven the need for these excessive carbohydrates (see Sparta Point). With this increase in nutritional studies, medical research on the cause of disease has also grown, particularly insight into the neurological disorders of our aging population. Perhaps at the forefront of these nutritional recommendations are antioxidants, molecules that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. This process is particularly damaging to the nervous system and maintaining a healthy brain, crucial components for anyone interested in moving better.
Oxidation Targets Your Nervous System
Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from one substance to another. The process’s main drawback is the production of free radicals, which can damage and ultimately destroy cells. Such oxidative stress is thought to contribute to the development of a wide range of diseases that attack a healthy brain, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other motor neuron diseases
Fruits vs. Vegetables, It is Not Just Low Carb
At Sparta, we are not prone to suggesting ONE best fruit or vegetable, but rather a variety of different produce, because each color represents a different source of nutrients (see Sparta Point). However, we are more likely to recommend vegetables over fruits because vegetables tend to have a lower sugar and caloric content. This characteristic is the biggest reason for vegetable preference; an attribute called nutrient density. They just have more vitamins and minerals per calorie than any food! So it is not a low carb rationale, but rather the pursuit of nourishment for a healthy brain! Like everything though, there are exceptions…
A Synapse: The Connection Between Neurons
The Solution Are Berries
In a 2012 study out of the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, authors founds that eating berry fruits can promote a healthy brain. Their review concluded that berries help the brain stay healthy in several ways. First, berry fruits contain higher levels of antioxidants than most fruits. The review also found that berries change the way neurons in the brain communicate. These changes in signaling can prevent inflammation in the brain, improving both motor control and cognition. More specifically, the authors found enhancement of neurotransmission, which is the speed of signaling from the brain. The last major benefit is the improvement in neuroplasticity, the ability of the nervous system to change from stimuli (see Sparta Point), a crucial quality for athletes looking to evolve.
So get those 8 servings of vegetables, or berries, every day to move faster and adapt quicker.
What is One Tip You Have to get those 8?
Miller MG, Shukitt-Hale B. Berry fruit enhances beneficial signaling in the brain. J. Agric. Food Chem.60(23),5709–5715(2012)